Taiwan must secure a strategic position in the “new space age” and grasp the commercial opportunities heralded by low Earth orbit satellites, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.
The “new space age” refers to the increasing commercialization of space, with the private sector playing a more important role than national governments.
Tsai yesterday visited the headquarters of the National Space Organization (NSPO) at the Hsinchu Science Park along with Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅).
Photo courtesy of the Hsinchu City Government
It is estimated that thousands of low Earth orbit satellites would be launched in the next decade, generating massive demand for satellite and ground equipment manufacturing, Tsai said.
The next decade is very crucial as many nations are also planning to return to the moon and Taiwan must secure a more strategically significant position in the “new space age,” she said.
Building on Taiwan’s strengths in semiconductors and precision manufacturing, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Development Fund are cooperating with local firms to try to grab a share of the global supply chain, she added.
Tsai expressed the hope that NSPO Director-General Wu Jong-shinn (吳宗信), nicknamed “Uncle Rocket,” would be able to “rocket” local space technology into space.
After Wu assumed his position on Aug. 2 he has been restructuring the NSPO to highlight the development of satellite payloads, components and avionics.
Asked about his rationale, Wu said that the NSPO in earlier years had to purchase many components from foreign suppliers when developing a satellite.
The lack of autonomous development of certain components caused uncertainty about their import and delayed satellite development, he said.
Following the restructuring, the NSPO would be able to devote more resources to developing satellite payloads and components, Wu said.
The flight control division and electrical engineering division have been merged into a new satellite avionics division, he said.
Speaking about the NSPO’s plans, Wu said weather satellite Triton (獵風者) is scheduled to be launched next year and it also plans to develop a second low Earth orbit communications satellite for the Beyond 5G project, set to be launched in 2025 or 2026.
The Beyond 5G project only consisted of one satellite when it was initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology in January with a budget of NT$4 billion (US$144.3 million).
The specifications of the two B5G communications satellites would be comparable to those of the Starlink satellites developed by SpaceX, Wu said.
Asked whether there would be more funding to produce satellites, Executive Yuan Board of Science and Technology Executive Secretary Andrew Yeh (葉哲良) said that more deliberation is needed and that the results would be known by the end of this year.
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